This past season of MLB baseball was undoubtedly a disappointing one for fans of the New York Yankees. The team’s performance was not up-to-snuff, given the normal expectations of Yankees fans who anticipate their team to at least make it to the playoffs. When winning in the postseason becomes unlikely, it is almost as if the efforts of the season were all for naught. Recently, a Yankee-less October is so rare that 2013 is only the second time in 19 years that the Bronx Bombers have not seen the postseason.
You might be wondering why I decided to take the time to recount the less-than-ideal performance of my favorite baseball team in a column. The reason is that the Yankees’ end result must be contrasted with pre-season speculation about them.
During a panel discussion of analysts on the YES network, led by Fordham alumnus Michael Kay, the team was predicted to have success only after the middle part of the season when their “all-stars” came back from injury. It was insinuated that if the team could stay around the .500 mark or a few games below, that they would have a good chance to make the playoffs with the return of better known players. As anyone who follows the Yankees or baseball in general might have realized, the Bombers entered the All-Star Break well above .500, playing the best baseball they’ve played all year. It was not until after most of their “best” players came back that the team began a steady decline.
The baseball analysts, and Yankee fans in general, greatly awaited the return of certain players while lesser- known and younger athletes kept the team well afloat.
So what does this say about people’s expectations of teams and of society? To me, this shows that people of the world, or at least Americans, are putting more value on a few better-known components of a whole rather than the team itself.
In the beginning of the season, the Yankees appeared to be functioning at their highest level due to the contributions of all components of the team. The pitching and defense operated at high levels, which gave the offense, though not as great as past years, to score enough runs to win games.
This is speculation, but it is possible that the pitching began to suffer upon the heavy-hitters’ return because of the higher value being put on the offensive perks that the returning players were expected to provide.
There were many instances on the field that could be considered as defining moments that hindered the Yankees’ progress, but looking back, the team’s poor ending was inevitable from the start due to the reliance on individual players rather than the whole team.
Teamwork and unity are important factors that shape the world, and it is interesting to see so much attention being paid to individuals. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, but without every one of its links, it is not a chain at all.